English import Rob Pearson (left) was sent off in the 60th minute for "serious foul play".
Hawkes Bay Today - Anendra Singh
History will show Napier City Rovers pipped Palmerston North Marist in their Central League match but that isn't so.
"We're quite comfortable in what we did so the scoreline actually flatters them a little bit," said player/coach Bill Robertson after the Conroy Removals-sponsored Blues beat Marist 3-1 away at Memorial Park on Saturday in the Lotto-sponsored league.
That is despite the referee sending off English import defensive midfielder Rob Pearson in the 60th minute.
"The ref called it serious foul play but for me it was a late tackle in wet conditions to win the ball so it should have been a freekick or, at the worse, a yellow card," Robertson said.
Striker Stephen Hoyle opened the defending champions' account in the 11th minute before right wing Fergus Neil made it 2-0 in the 27th but the visitors conceded a "sloppy goal" to Jerram Tuck on the stroke of halftime.
Playmaker Saul Halpin, overcoming his hamstring layoff, made it 3-1 in the 53rd minute.
The hosts didn't score their second goal until the 87th minute.
"The pitch got a lot of rain the night before so there was quite a bit of surface flooding but it's been like that for a while," he said, referring to the 5-3 loss to Stop Out in Napier the previous Sunday.
Tom Biss came off the bench after battling the Havelock North bug with centreback Finlay Milne coming off in the 59th with a groin injury.
Hoyle, carrying an ongoing injury, came off in the 30th minute.Goalkeeper Ruben Parker Hanks also started.
The key game this Saturday is Wellington Olympic away against Stop Out at Hutt Park.
If the Greeks win then they will win the crown. However, a draw or loss will give the second-placed Rovers and third-placed Miramar Rangers a sniff, provided they win their games.
Miramar play hosts Wairarapa United tomorrow night before the season's final fling against Petone.
The Rovers play Lower Hutt at Fraser Park in a 2.30pm kick off this Saturday.
In other games on Saturday, Western Suburbs beat Wairarapa 6-3 while Miramar Rangers overwhelmed Lower Hutt City 4-1 at Wakefield Park.
- Hawkes Bay Today
By Anendra Singh